Russia Switch To Asia Would Require Thorough Examination
Saudi Arabia football chief Yasser Almisehal said the possibility of Russia switching to the Asian Football Confederation AFC would come only after exhaustive examination of the implications.
FIFA and UEFA banned Russian teams from all competitions after the invasion of Ukraine last February and, with those sanctions still in place, speculation has been mounting over the Russian Football Union (RFU)’s next move.
Switching from the European governing body to Asia’s 47-nation confederation has been touted by RFU chief Aleksander Dyukov as a possible option to allow the Russian national team and clubs continued international competition.
The notion was given a boost when the Olympic Council of Asia said last week that athletes from Russia and Belarus could use its qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Summer Games if they are excluded from European competition
Almisehal, the president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, said such a transfer could only be considered after being thoroughly assessed by the AFC.
“It really needs a thorough study: What would that add to the continent? What kind of benefits would football in Asia have out of that move?” Almisehal, who was elected onto the FIFA Council on Wednesday.
“In recent years we’ve not seen such a transaction so it would take a lot of deep studying to evaluate whether it makes sense to do that, if it becomes a real request.”
Alexey Sokoryn, Russia’s former FIFA Council member and organiser of the 2018 World Cup, was present at Wednesday’s congress, adding to speculation that discussions would be taking place between Russian and Asian officials.
Almisehal, though, said speculation was all it was.
“Today we had four other FIFA Council members here as guests,” he added.
“I’ve not heard anything about any intentions for the Russians to do such a step, but if it becomes official it will be handled by the relevant authorities, whether it’s the AFC, FIFA or UEFA.
“But to be honest I’ve not heard anything about this and it’s only speculation in the media.”
Moves between confederations are rare.